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Clips / What’s the point of doing nothing?

Thich Nhat Hanh

In our society, everyone is over-scheduled, including children. Children are over-scheduled. And that is why we suffer of stress, depression, and so on. I think we have pushed the children to work too hard, and we have pushed ourselves to work too hard. This is not a civilization. We have to change the situation.

In Plum Village, every week we have one day called a lazy day. Lazy day is not a day when you can do what you like, because usually you think that there are things that you want to do, you like to do very much. And because in other days you have to do things for the Sangha, the daily things, that is why you need some time in order to to do what you like to do. And you may have an idea about the lazy day. Lazy day is a day when I can do what I like to do, but that is not a lazy day. Lazy day is a day when you refrain from doing anything; you resist doing things, because you are used to doing things. It can be a bad habit: if you are not doing anything, you have to die. You cannot bear the thought of doing nothing. It has become a habit. That is why, when you do not do anything, you suffer.

The lazy day is a kind of drastic measure against that kind of habit energy. On lazy days, you refrain! You do your best in order to refrain from trying to do something. You try to do nothing. It’s hard. It’s hard, but we have to learn. We have to open up, to start a new civilization. Because we have the tendency to think in terms of doing, and not in terms of being. We think that when we are not doing anything, we are wasting our time. That is not true. Our time is first of all, is for us to be. To be what? To be alive, to be peace, to be joy, to be loving. And that is what the world needs the most so, we train ourself in order to be.

And if you know the art of being peace, of being silent, then you have the ground for every action, because the ground for action is to be. And the quality of being determines the quality of doing. Action must be based on non-action.

— More from Thich Nhat Hanh

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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